Bowl season is well underway which means the 2018 NFL Draft interest meter should have clicked up a notch or two by now. While the 2017 Los Angeles Rams’ on-field successes in 2017 have rightfully lessened focus on the draft at this early stage, there’s plenty going on in the next week worth paying attention to. And that starts in earnest today with some big major bowl games, despite the obvious theme of the day being which players are not involved.
Walk-On's Independence Bowl
1:30pm ET, ESPN
Two of the three best prospects in this one aren’t even playing today. S Derwin James and CB Tarvarus McFadden both opted not to participate meaning the only top prospect on the Noles involved is DT Derrick Nnadi. Shame for Rams fans as both could be options for the Rams depending on how early action goes for the Rams in free agency. USM RB Ito Smith should get drafted, though he lacks the functional size to be an everydown back. WR Auden Tate never really thrived this year, though obviously the absence of QB Deondre Francois has to be factored in. I’d expect him back for 2018 and a potential big year that could catapult him into Day 2 or even first-round discussions.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
5:15pm ET, ESPN
Again, we’ve got a top talent unavailable with BC OLB Harold Landry sidelined with an ankle injury. This one especially stings for Rams fans as Landry is likely to be a fine candidate for the Rams’ first-round selection. Nonetheless, fans will definitely want to get a look at Iowa CB Joshua Jackson, a frequent target for the Rams early on in mock drafts. And we haven’t mentioned him on the site yet, but Iowa C James Daniels looks the part of an NFL center. He hasn’t made a public call on whether or not to return for his senior year, but if he declares he might make a fine replacement for John Sullivan.
Foster Farms Bowl
8:30pm ET, FOX
Ok, so not every game today is a NFL must-see...
QB Khalil Tate is a an oddity that’s worth checking out. The Inglewood native is a legit dual-threat who passed for 1,289 yards and 9 touchdowns and ran for more in both categories. Well, maybe not a legit dual-threat as he’s pretty limited as a passer. Still...he’s like a college version of Rams RB Todd Gurley playing quarterback. And that’s pretty fun to watch!
Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl
9:00pm ET, ESPN
Oh, Misone...my Turf Show Radio pal...
LT Connor Williams is a top tackle prospect. He ain’t playin. S DeShon Elliott is a top safety prospect. He ain’t playin. OLB Malik Jefferson is a top OLB prospect. He has turf toe and might not play... Sigh... But hey, P Michael Dickson might be the best punter in the country, and he’s playin! Tune in, NFL fans! To be fair, you can also get looks from the Horns on CB Holton Hill and DT Poona Ford along with a TON of young talents that will filter up in the years to come.
As for Mizzou, it starts with QB Drew Lock. He’ll get drafted, but it’s a question of when... as in which year. He apparently didn’t get a great response from the NFL draft advisory board, but we’ll see. And WR J’Mon Moore could really use a big night. If he goes up against Hill and wins against one of the better big corners in the country, that could be the kind of tape that turns scouts minds on.